First Look: Vermeer Launches Laser-Guide Line/Grade Boring Machine

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | March 2009 Vol. 64 No. 3
The power pack and vacuum tank for Vermeer's Axis systemj are stored aboveground.

Vermeer is introducing a new laser-guided, grade-control pipe installation system that the company says has several design features not available on other on grade equipment currently available in North America.

The Vermeer AXIS guided boring system is designed for the installation of 10 to 14 inch pipe from manhole to manhole in the 300 to 350 foot range, said Ed Savage, Vermeer trenchless segment manager. Depending on soil conditions, larger diameter pipe may be installed.

Basic components of the system include power pack, rack carriage, vacuum, vacuum tank and boring rod.

Pipe installation with the AXIS system has been described as similar to pilot tube microtunneling, but with important differences that Savage said set the new system apart from other methods including pipe jacking, auger boring and microtunneling.

Specifics

Key features of the AXIS system include:

  • AXIS capabilities are not limited to installing sectional pipe; it can accommodate fused HDPE and PVC, as well as non jacking sectional pipe and also can install standard clay and steel pipe;
  • The system can both push and pull in product pipe;
  • A vacuum evacuates spoil without the need for the slow process of using "muck" buckets. Vacuuming spoil also helps eliminate the risk of frac out and heaving. The vacuum also allows a minimum annulus, which helps improve accuracy; and
  • The drill head can be retracted and changed in mid installation to adapt to changing soil conditions.

"By utilizing a laser for guidance and flat face cutter similar to microtunneling technology, AXIS is capable of completing 'flatter' grades more accurately," Savage said. "A good, patient operator can make on grade installations with horizontal directional drilling equipment. But for grades less than one percent, it becomes tricky with HDD, partly because of the tapered bit technology that HDD uses on the front of the drill head."

Savage said the AXIS system employs proven technology that has been used in Australia for more than 20 years. Testing in the United States confirms the AXIS system can maintain grades of less than 0.5 percent with pipe diameters of less than 24 inches.

Added Savage: "The system provides excellent productivity to depths of 40 feet, can work below ground water tables, and its vacuum capability makes it an environmentally friendly approach compared to open cut methods."